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ljandgb

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  1. Agree with above and will second that it can be HOT in the summer. Don't be scared to try a European line. We cruised MSC, in concierge, and had a great time, for a crazy cheap price and saved enough to do a week in France before the cruise. The itinerary that fit our schedule included stops to places I'd had no interest in going to and ended up being some of our favorite ports - Mallorca, Sardinia. Europe, and any particular port city, is impossible to see in an 8, 10, or 12 hr time frame. Consider adding a land portion to your trip, but limiting it to 1-2 areas. Many Americans are tempted to "see it all" since they're already across the ocean anyways. There is LOTS of BTDT advice on the boards here, or at TripAdvisor, to help you plan.
  2. Since the OP would be in the Baltics in April, I suspect the likelihood of a heat wave is less. I'd layer. You can get decent lightweight down jackets at a good price online. I bought one for our Iceland stopover and have ended up using it much more than I thought, at home and traveling. I live in central Texas, so also hot most of the year. It also makes other trips to cold climates easier, as I'm already geared up, as it were. My jacket actually stuffs into it's own pocket, making it easier to pack and it makes a nice pillow on the plane.
  3. Agree with all above, and will add that I found the ship especially cool in the evenings. I finally bought a second sweatshirt because I was tired of wearing the same one every night.
  4. Well, it would be hard to "steal" a bag that is slung across my body. I could be mugged and it taken by force, but the likelihood of that is low enough I'm willing to risk it. I like to have a bag to keep a water bottle, hand sanitizer, my daughter's epi pens, and the other random things that moms carry around. Even then, I don't carry my passport, large amounts of money, or more than one credit card regardless in the bag. The zipper locks to the strap, the strap is also slash proof. My bag has a lock on the strap that allows me to weave it into then lock the strap onto a chair, etc, if I'm in a cafe, so as long as I remember to do that, if it is off my body, it's still as secure as possible. Our last cruise, I did travel with a money belt for those times when I had to transport a large amount of cash for paying for tours at the time of service.
  5. We just got back from 4 days there. We used public transit exclusively with no problems. The Moovit app is great about telling you which bus/train/metro to take. Get a zone 1 T10 ticket, which is good for 10 rides on everything but a trip to the airport, the Montjuic cable cars, and the night buses. A "ride" is good for 75 minutes and one ride can include bus/metro/train in sequence. It was 10.20 euro and multiple people can use it. You just run it thru the turnstile then turn around and hand it to your friend/spouse/etc. Totally legit, as the metro workers repeatedly told us the first day. Same for the bus, just pop it in the reader as many times as you have riders. We did a bike tour with Steel Donkey and had a great time. It was 4 hours and we covered 8+ miles, which was shocking as it was easy enough, with enough stops in the shade that I wouldn't have guessed it. We saw most of the main areas of Barcelona, while avoiding most of the crowds. We even stopped half way for coffee and lunch. We also did a Picoeto food tour with Food Lovers, which was a nice intro in the tapas/pinchot culture.
  6. I'll second working with TJ. We used them for our private tour and they were excellent. We added a stop they'd never done, at the request of my cat loving daughter. They were very helpful and accommodating. I'm sure they could help you craft a great tour.
  7. Regarding food choices - as mentioned, there aren't a lot of dining locations on most river ships. There just isn't enough room for multiple venues. There is also a difference between lines as far as the one dining room goes. Some lines have little to no choice on what is being served (same meal for everyone with an option to "opt out" for a chicken breast instead.) Some lines have a wider menu to choose from, some lines have a timed dinner seating, others are come and go. I think one of the biggest differences is evenings. There just is very little to do on a river cruise if the ship is underway. If shows, etc, are a big part of your vacation, you will be disappointed. Some lines set sail before dinner and you are effectively a captive audience until after breakfast, with limited options between - go to your room, sit in the lounge, perhaps enjoy a small concert or talk in the lounge if it's offered. Other lines stay in port until after dinner or overnight. For me, I prefer that, where I have the chance to try local restaurants, explore a bit, etc. Agree a verandah can be very hit or miss. We had a french balcony, and it was great to lay in bed and see out the window - right up until we woke up one morning 18" from the Tauck ship moored next to us. There is always ample seating on the top of the ship to enjoy the scenery.
  8. Connecting rooms can help given the littles a bit more room to move. You can also save money by putting some folks across the hall in an inside cabin. Where you are signed up and where you actually sleep can be different. DCL does't do bed checks. πŸ™‚
  9. We did a private tour with Miguel Corral, which went up into the hills to Valldemossa then around town in Palma. There were 8 of us, with a large well air-conditioned van. He was very good, and able to cater to both my 75 yo mom who needed to slow down the pace at one point, and my 17 yo daughter, who wanted to do a bit of shopping.
  10. *Your Darn autocorrect! Now that I'm off my phone, most south coast tours stop at Vik. I'd just look at various tours for some of the differences. Add a glacier walk? Horse ride? Zip lining? And like I said, big bus vs small van. There's little chance of seeing the NL late May to early September. The flip side of being there when you do have a chance to see them is you'll be doing a lot of driving in the dark, so will miss the scenery.
  11. What time of year will you be there? Any south coast tour that does not include Jokulsarlon is fine, as they all hit the standard sites. You’re biggest decision is big bus or smaller van/mini bus.
  12. They are a reputable company but that is a VERY long day, with a good 8 hours of drive time. If you only have one day in port and are ok with that much time in a bus, then go for it. If you have more time, or prefer less drive time, do a south coast tour that does not include Jokulsarlon. It is 2+ hours beyond the rest of the south coast sites. There is also no guarantee there will be any ice in the lagoon or on the beach, just to forewarn you. It comes and goes with the winds and tides.
  13. There's no bad weather, only inadequate clothing. πŸ™‚ We were rained on a few times on our October Rhine cruise, and it was very cold while we went thru the gorge area with all the castles. It was fine. We had rain coats, umbrellas, hats, gloves, and warm jackets. I hate wet shoes, too, and have waterproof hiking shoes. A little clunky, but comfortable, warm and dry goes a long way.
  14. We used TJ for a one day private tour of SPB with our family of 8. I couldn't recommend them highly enough.
  15. It might help to know the actual itineraries for each cruise as to which is better. The Baltic is amazing, and my kids loved the trip. They were 10, 13, 16, 16 at the time. I agree it's port intensive and which ship you're on is probably not as important. Oceania seems to skew older, and even the mention of kids on board in their forum here on CC will give some posters hives. There were a small handful of kids (like 5?) on our Oceania cruise, but it was French Polynesia in March. They may be a few more on a European cruise during the summer. Well behaved kids would be fine, regardless of what some CC members would say, but there will be no kids club and very few other kids for your kids to befriend at the pool, etc, if they need that sort of thing. We did MSC for the Med, and if you can do the Yacht Club, I'd seriously consider going with them. That would indeed be special for your mom. There will be more kids as well. My daughter brought her Nintendo Switch and had instant friends every night in the lounge. Either way, the Baltic will be fine for your mom. In some ways, it's less "foreign" than the Med since more people seem to speak English and the customer service in Scandinavian countries is top notch. Another idea - IcelandAir lets you do a stopover up to 7 days on one leg of the trip. A cheaper cruise may give you enough extra cash to do 2-3 days in Iceland, which is my favorite country on the planet.
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